Photo: Furniture Bank
Introducing Metcalf’s 2021 Opportunities Fund Grantees

Metcalf is pleased to introduce the 13 new grants from the Inclusive Local Economies program’s 2021 Opportunities Fund, allocating over $1.2 million in funding. The goal of the Opportunities Fund is to improve the economic livelihoods of low-income people through strategies that increase access to good jobs and improve low-wage work, reduce barriers for low-income entrepreneurs and alternative business models, and leverage the capacity of neighbourhoods and community assets.


Making Precarious Jobs Better (Raising the Floor) and Supporting the Upward Mobility of Workers (Building Ladders)

The AECEO is the professional association for early childhood workers, and advocates for respect, recognition, and appropriate wages and working conditions. In partnership with the Institute for Change Leaders, the project will recruit and build new leadership in the early childhood workforce and strengthen existing networks to mobilize and advocate for better working conditions and access to decent work.

The East Scarborough Storefront is a community-based organization that strengthens and supports the networking, capacity, strategy, and leadership among community organizations, local residents, and neighbourhood employers and institutions. In partnership with MakeWay Charitable Society, the project seeks to deepen their local workforce development strategy with anchor institutions to respond to local employers’ hiring priorities. Metcalf Foundation has invested in the development of East Scarborough’s local workforce strategy since 2015.

CultureLink is a community-based organization focused on facilitating active participation and integration of newcomers and the broader community. This project will develop partnerships with employers in the cycling industry to inform their youth employment program model in Black Creek.

St. Michael’s Hospital’s Upstream Lab is focused on developing and evaluating interventions that address the social determinants of health. The project will establish the Empower Personal Support Workers (PSW) Network to serve as a platform for PSWs to organize for better work conditions, advocate for their rights, and share resources and information. The project is informed by their previous Metcalf-funded research on PSWs’ work conditions.

The Parkdale Queen West Community Health Centre is a community-based health services organization serving south-west Toronto. In collaboration with the Nail Technicians Network, the project aims to research and develop a set of voluntary standards and nail salon owner champions to improve health standards and working conditions in nail salons.

CEE is a community organization working with Black youth to address economic and social barriers to improve their careers, education, and empowerment. The project will develop a framework for its employer engagement to strengthen industry engagement and partnerships with employers working in social services, entertainment, trades, information technology, and finance.

NPower Canada is a workforce organization that launches underserved young adults into meaningful and sustainable digital careers. In partnership with the Native Child and Family Services of Toronto, the project will provide young Indigenous GED learners digital skills training, wraparound support, and mentorship to build pathways from graduation to sustainable employment in the information technology sector.

The Hospitality Workers Training Centre (HWTC) is a workforce training organization that supports low-income people to both enter and advance in the Toronto hospitality and food service sector. In partnership with The Learning Enrichment Foundation, a community-based charity that supports social enterprise innovation, the project will develop meaningful engagement strategies with employers in high-demand industries to support displaced hospitality workers to transition into good jobs.

Reducing Barriers for Low-Income Entrepreneurs and Alternative Business Models

Foodsters United Co-op advocates to protect precarious workers in the gig economy through organizing workers in Toronto. FoodShare is a community organization that advocates for food justice by supporting community-based food initiatives and through ongoing advocacy and public education. In partnership with Foodshare’s shared platform model, the project aims to develop a co-op delivery platform owned by worker members to provide on-demand delivery for businesses.

Vivimos Juntxs, Comemos Juntxs is a grassroots collective that aims to provide material and social support to undocumented communities, while simultaneously creating a migrant-led, migrant-decided space where their communities can imagine and work towards building a city where they have power over the services and resources they need to live a dignified life. In partnership with Foodshare’s shared platform model, the project will research how entrepreneurship opportunities can further enable migrants to participate in the economy.

Furniture Bank is a non-profit social enterprise that collects gently used furniture while training and employing communities that face barriers to employment. In collaboration with Mizwe Biik Aboriginal and Employment Training and IKEA, the project will develop a furniture repair model that advances the circular economy and create good jobs and meaningful careers in the refurbishing and reupholstering field.

Leveraging the Capacity of Neighbourhoods to Improve the Economic Livelihoods of Low-Income Residents

Black Urbanism Toronto (BUTO) was founded in 2018 to advance the social, cultural, and economic interest of Black communities in the local neighbourhoods, including through heritage preservation and place-keeping. In partnership with the Jamaican Canadian Association, a charity focused on improving the well-being and equity of Jamaican, Caribbean, and African Communities in the GTA, the project seeks to explore community control and ownership models to retain and expand the diverse range of Black businesses that supports Little Jamaica’s vibrant local economies.

The PNLT is a membership-based community-controlled organization that acquires, owns, and stewards land and housing for the specific purpose of providing community benefits to equity seeking community members. As PNLT enters a growth phase, increasing their residential unit portfolio significantly, the project will develop and strengthen long-term partnerships focused on social procurement, workforce development, climate resilience, housing operations, and social finance, and operationalize their growth.